Monday, August 27, 2018

Paper Dolls are Having a Good Week in Pop Culture!

From my basement office in Kingfield, Maine, to the airways across North America and beyond, paper dolls have been catapulted into the pantheon of pop culture!

Last Tuesday, my own little paper doll company, Paper Studio Press, got a huge plug on LA Daily, my favorite show about "all things pop culture" on SiriusXM's Entertainment Weekly Radio Channel 105. Through social media, I connected with show host Julia Cunningham over our mutual love of indie films. Her daily reports from the 2017 SCAD Savannah Film Festival inspired me to start my own #indiemoviemarathon, watching one or two indie films every couple of weeks at the Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, Maine.

Julia Cunningham, host of LA Daily on SiriusXM Channel 105

When award season rolled around, I was ready, having seen most every film nominated. To celebrate, I sent Julia a care package of paper dolls including David Wolfe's Fashions That Rocked and Wrecked the Red Carpet. Soon after, Julia enthusiastically talked about my publishing company and our paper dolls on her show. That evening in December, while wrapping Christmas gifts and listening to Julia boast about paper dolls on LA Daily, an idea sparked in my head: start a line of Pop Culture Paper Dolls. This new line would feature pop culture subjects, both retro and contemporary, and the books would include fun elements like a trivia quiz, pop culture tidbits and even retro recipes. I put the word out to paper doll collectors and artists, and the ideas... and art... quickly came in.

The first two books in this new series came out this month: Retro Space Girls, by Brenda Sneathen Mattox, and Broadway Sensations, by Cory Jensen. I immediately sent copies to Julia and she immediately mentioned them on her show, between her report of the VMAs and her interview with James Brolin! Not only did she mention these books, she read half of my letter on air and encouraged her listeners to collect paper dolls! Please check out her show, LA Daily on SiriusXM Channel 105 and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Thank you, Julia! You are the best! 

Now if that wasn't enough excitement for one week, this morning I got news that the new Decoder Ring Podcast for Slate Magazine has been released. The subject? PAPER DOLLS!!

Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Each month the hosts take on a cultural question, object, idea, or habit and speak with experts, historians, and obsessives to figure out where it comes from, what it means, and why it matters. And for the month of August, 2018, the podcast opens a very interesting window into the cultural history of paper dolls, focusing on the life story of our own David Wolfe.

Paper Doll of David Wolfe by Benjamin Frisch

Co-host Benjamin Frisch interviewed several of us in the paper doll world including artist Cory Jensen, collector Emi Lotto and myself. For the interview with David, a sound crew was sent to his apartment in Palm Springs, CA. During the three-hour interview, David talked about playing with paper dolls as a little boy and how he had to hide them in the bottom of a drawer. Growing up in Ohio in the 1950s, being gay wasn't even a consideration. Being a sissy was taboo, yet David managed to dress up for Halloween as Carmen Miranda several years in a row. David escaped into a world of fantasy through glamorous movies and drawing paper dolls. That passion laid the groundwork for his very successful career in fashion illustration and trend forecasting. As he approached retirement years, he returned to his childhood love of drawing paper dolls. David revealed a lot about his difficult family life; his mother and brother both suffered from mental illness. Before the podcast was released, David worried that he'd sound like "a dotty old queen." Oh, David, the podcast is BRILLIANT. His story is interesting, compelling, impressive and heart-warming. OK, I am bias, but I think you'll agree! 

Please listen to Decoder Ring: The Paper Doll Club. Woven through David's story is the cultural connection of paper dolls to fashion, creativity, nostalgia and queerness. Plus song snippets from the Mills Brothers' hit "Paper Doll" and Golden Records' "Paper Family." Thanks, Decoder Ring, for putting the pop culture spotlight on Paper Dolls!

Golden Records, 1952 
by Anne Lloyd, Michael Stewart, The Sandpipers, Mitchell Miller and Orchestra

There’s a paper man
in a paper house
on a paper street
in a paper town
in a little paper world
that belongs to me.

Every morning he
gives his paper wife
and his paper child
a paper kiss
and he goes to work
in a paper factory.

You may not believe
that they can move and walk.
But if you use your imagination,
dolls can even talk.

So take a few small pieces of paper,
and make yourself
a sweet little paper man
and a paper wife
and a paper boy
and a paper girl
and a paper dog
and a paper cat.
A paper family.

And if you use your imagination,
you will see that they can be
as real as you and me.

So make yourself
a paper man
and a paper wife
and a paper boy
and a paper girl
and a paper dog
and a paper cat.
A paper family.

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